Immigration: 30 out of every 1,000 migrants die at sea

EU must act in countries of provenance, says new EUI report

02 December, 19:02

    Rescue operation of about 120 migrants from a bot adrift in stor for more than one day off Crotonein southern Italy Rescue operation of about 120 migrants from a bot adrift in stor for more than one day off Crotonein southern Italy

    (ANSAmed) - ROME - Every year for the past 15 years, an average of 40,000 illegal immigrants have disembarked on European shores, and the mortality rate has increased in the meantime, a report by the Florence-based European University Institute said Monday. Most recently, more than 30 out of every 1,000 of those who tried to cross the Mediterranean have died along the way.

    A total of 623,118 clandestine immigrants have reached Europe from 1998 to the present day: with its 39,420 new arrivals so far, 2013 is just an average year.

    But the mortality rate has been on the rise since 2001, making the European crossing ''the most dangerous in the world'', according to the report.

    During 2008-2013, a majority of refugees came from those countries in which it is the most difficult, if not impossible, to request asylum, namely Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria. The paradox is that those who have the most right to claim refugee status are also those forced to put themselves in the hands of human traffickers.

    Europe must act on several fronts in order to break this vicious cycle, the report suggested. First and foremost, by boosting its presence in countries of first asylum, then by increasing asylum capabilities in third countries.

    If prevention is the best cure, the issue of turning refugees away remains an open one. ''People intercepted or rescued at sea can be sent back to where they boarded only after they have been given the possibility of arguing against this decision before the authorities of the member State'', said the report, citing a European Court of Human Rights ruling from February 2012.

    Because this right cannot be guaranteed while on the high seas, the pressing question remains where to take the illegals.

    Coastal nations have already nixed a European Commission proposal that refugees be taken to the shores of the nearest country. There is still much to be done to reach a consensus on how to prevent the ongoing massacre in the waters of the Mediterranean, the report pointed out. (ANSAmed).

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